Alphabet’s Loon hands the reins of its internet air balloons to self-learning AI

Alphabet’s Loon, the team responsible for beaming internet down to Earth from stratospheric helium balloons, has achieved a new milestone: its navigation system is no longer run by human-designed software.


© Image: Loon

Instead, the company’s internet balloons are steered around the globe by an artificial intelligence — in particular, a set of algorithms both written and executed by a deep reinforcement learning-based flight control system that is more efficient and adept than the older, human-made one. The system is now managing Loon’s fleet of balloons over Kenya, where Loon launched its first commercial internet service in July after testing its fleet in a series of disaster relief initiatives and other test environments for much of the last decade.


Load Error

Loon’s internet balloons are now piloted by an AI flight control system

Similar to how researchers have achieved breakthrough AI advances in teaching computers to play sophisticated video games

Read More

Brazil, US Join Hands In Shutting Down Piracy Sites, Apps In ‘Operation 404’


  • Brazil, U.S. target websites, apps that stream content illegally
  • Authorities seized three domains that were streaming pirated content
  • The domains are now in the custody of the federal government

The Brazilian government joined forces with the U.S. in initiating a campaign called “Operation 404” that is against websites and apps that are streaming TV shows and movies illegally.

According to a press release on the Department of Justice’s website, the operation, which is being led by Brazilian authorities, already took down various websites and apps that were illegally showcasing video content owned by the rightsholders in the U.S.

Brazil’s Secretariat of Integrated Operations (SEOPI) launched the operation in partnership with the U.S. Department of Justice and Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations unit.

The operation has determined three domains –,, and – that were offering “free access to copyrighted content to website visitors all

Read More

New European Space Agency website puts climate in your hands

New website puts climate in your hands
Witness decades of global climate change unfold in seconds. Pinch and zoom and compare individual climate variables, side-by-side. Using interactive 3D globes, maps and hands-on storytelling, you can now explore ESA’s global satellite observations collected over five decades to see key aspects of our climate and how it is evolving. Credit: European Space Agency

Witness the changing planet through the eye of Earth-orbiting satellites with Climate from Space, a new interactive website developed by ESA.

Using interactive 3-D globes, maps and hands-on storytelling, you can now explore ESA’s global satellite observations collected over five decades to see key aspects of our climate and how it is evolving.

From the vantage point of space, users can see for themselves how atmospheric greenhouse gasses are rising, glaciers are retreating, and ice sheets are diminishing; and explore patterns of wildfires from the Arctic Circle, to the Amazon rainforest, and across the Australian bush.

Read More

Hands on with Apple’s MagSafe charger and silicone cases

Apple’s MagSafe accessories have started to show up at customers’ doorsteps. We take a look at a few first-party cases, as well as Apple’s MagSafe charger, to see how they work.

A few readers had questions after AppleInsider posted its in-depth look on MagSafe last week. Here, we have an opportunity to answer those queries with a hands-on of Apple’s own accessories.

Apple's MagSafe charger

Apple’s MagSafe charger

As Apple just introduced the standard, the iPhone maker is one of the only manufacturers to currently have MagSafe products on the market. OtterBox has released a few cases, but it won’t be long before countless others flood the market.

Ahead of the full launch of iPhone 12 — including November’s iPhone 12 mini and iPhone 12 Pro Max debuts — we got our hands on Apple’s MagSafe charger and several MagSafe-compatible silicone cases. Apple is still readying a leather sleeve, leather cases, and wallets.

Read More